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Why won’t the usually loquacious Gov. DeSantis answer questions under oath? | Column
“Instead, DeSantis threw a bunch of flunkies into the fray to explain the unexplainable,” writes guest columnist Daniel Ruth.
Ron DeSantis speaks to guests at the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting on Nov. 19, 2022, in Las Vegas.
Ron DeSantis speaks to guests at the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting on Nov. 19, 2022, in Las Vegas. [ SCOTT OLSON | Getty Images North America ]
Published Dec. 12, 2022

With apologies to “Monty Python and The Holy Grail,” it would seem we have a new cast member, the quivering Brave, Brave Sir Ronnie from the Kingdom of Tallahassee, a man who can be counted on to “Run away! Run away!” whenever the going gets sticky.

Daniel Ruth
Daniel Ruth [ Tampa Bay Times ]

Oh, it is certainly obvious the Huey Long-Lite of the Apalachee Parkway talks a tough game, especially when it comes to berating high school students for wearing masks during the COVID-19 epidemic or inveighing against Disney World when it had the temerity to express the view the governor’s anti-academic freedom proposals were, ahem, full of beans.

And DeSantis delivered a masterful piece of bloviation when he ham-handedly created an “Avengers-like” SWAT team to ferret out non-existent voter fraud in the state — accent on the word “ferret.”

Let us not also forget, DeSantis at his most unctuous when he hijacked a group of Venezuelan undocumented immigrants (including children) from Texas, dumped them on the plane bound for Martha’s Vineyard at Florida taxpayer expense and lied to them about phantom housing and jobs awaiting them. Stay classy, governor.

Then there is the curious case of defrocked twice-elected Democratic Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren, whom DeSantis summarily removed from office because … well … um … because he could. Think of this as a Sunshine State Inquisition.

Ostensibly, Warren was sacked because the governor accused him of potentially not prosecuting cases involving abortion and/or transgender care even though there are no laws on the books regarding transgender treatment. And the whole thing has been dumped into the lap of U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle in Tallahassee, who presided over a recent three-day hearing to determine if Warren should get his job back.

True to form, DeSantis refused to testify or be deposed in the case, even though he was the one solely responsible for violating Warren’s free speech rights, as well as autocratically overturning the will of Hillsborough County voters.

Accountability?!?! Please, once demagogues like DeSantis start being held accountable, where does it end? Much better to hide out in The Villages.

Instead, DeSantis threw a bunch of flunkies into the fray to explain the unexplainable, most notably his own public safety factotum Larry Keefe.

Keefe admitted under oath that his Inspector Javert-esque investigation into Warren’s misdeeds pretty much was limited to asking Republic sheriffs around the state what they thought of the Democrat Warren. The answer: Duh! Then Keefe sought the counsel of deep-pocketed Republican donors like brothers Rex and Preston Farrior, Martin Garcia and Phillip Dingle, who thought Warren was simply dreadful. This, of course, was shocking.

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Keefe conceded that he never spoke to anyone on Warren’s staff, nor any victim’s rights groups, or even Tampa Mayor Jane Castor. Indeed, Warren was never allowed to read and review the order from Gov. Torquemada before being forced to leave the courthouse. We pause here to suggest that when Ron DeSantis was in law school he must have skipped the lecture the day due process was discussed.

Yet Gov. Duck & Cover refused to explain himself under oath in testimony before Hinkle. Perhaps he thinks he’s special. He’s not. Harboring presidential ambitions is not an excuse to claim sanctuary on Fox News, where all the anchors are toadies and the truth is optional.

In the meantime, thanks to reporting from the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau, we do know DeSantis blew through at least $3.4 million in Florida taxpayer money to steal some of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s inventory of undocumented immigrants to pull off his Martha’s Vineyard stunt.

But DeSantis and his co-conspirators of cruelty have continued to refuse to release additional public documents regarding the dragooning of innocent, vulnerable people simply seeking a better life into the jaws of political dirty tricks.

DeSantis so normally loquacious, so normally delighted to pop off about what a rootin’ tootin’ conservative sodbuster he is, suddenly adheres to a vow of omertà when it comes to defending himself against suggestions that his Tallahassee junta cares little about treating at-risk human beings with some modicum of decency.

He cares little about explaining why he engaged in a nakedly venal politically motivated assault on a duly elected public official without even attempting to conduct a professional investigation into Warren’s conduct in office, relying instead on his in-house Iago to do his dirty work for him.

And this, dear reader, is nothing more than “The Silence of the Sham.”